Too often, beneficiaries are dissatisfied with the provisions in the trust document.
Disputes often arise from how and when assets are distributed and beneficiaries may decide to launch a legal attack on the validity of the trust itself. Certain individuals may believe they were wrongfully denied status as beneficiaries and may file a legal challenge to the trust document. In such cases, the designated trustee will find themselves wrapped up in a complex and costly legal challenge.
It is important for a trustee to seek assistance from an experienced trust litigator who can protect their rights and effectively assist in the defense of the trust.
Defending Against Trust Challenges
Trustees have many responsibilities, one is the duty to defend the trust against attacks by beneficiaries, creditors, or other third parties. Many trusts are created among questionable circumstances that may give rise to legal challenges to the validity of the trust itself. In other situations, challenges occur simply because family members are being difficult or wish the trust provisions were different. In either situation, the trustee is left with the complex task of defending the trust against claims of undue influence, lack of capacity, or fraud, among others.
When facing an attack on the validity of a trust or an estate plan, an experienced trust attorney will understand that the party bringing the attack must prove their claims by clear and convincing evidence. Such evidence is not an easy burden of proof to achieve.
The defense, in turn, can present evidence to establish that the requisite level of capacity and free will existed when the trust was established. Doing so often requires the analysis and testimony of expert witnesses who can evaluate the situation and testify to the capacity of the trustors and, therefore, to the validity of the trust document and estate plan. It is critical to engage an attorney with the resources and knowledge needed to successfully defend the trust in this manner.
Using Trust Assets to Defend the Trust
Not only can defending a trust be time-consuming but it can also be costly and require many resources including expert witnesses. Fortunately, a trustee is generally not expected to reach into their own pockets to fund the defense against validity attacks. Instead, there are ways for the trustee to use the assets of the trust to cover the costs of the defense so that they can effectively protect the trust as well as their own financial well-being.
Contact Byron Husted at Morris Law Firm, APC to discuss your case with a San Diego Estate Planning and Litigation Attorney.
If you are a trustee and beneficiaries have challenged the validity of the trust document, you should speak with an attorney as soon as you can. San Diego trust and estate litigation lawyer Byron Husted is committed to helping trustees find the most cost-effective resolution available when faced with difficult beneficiaries.